File this one under not likely to happen. Then again, there’s always a chance when you trust the process.
According to CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn, the Sixers should think about executing a trade for Thunder point guard Chris Paul. The 34-year-old is averaging 17.1 points and 6.4 assists in 31.7 minutes per game in his first season in Oklahoma City.
While Paul is no longer the player he once was — nearly four seasons removed from his last All-Star appearance — he is still an agile ball-handler and deadly long-range shooter. He would fill an immediate need for a Sixers’ squad chasing a championship. Paul’s tenacity on the defensive end would also be a huge selling point for Philadelphia, a team already limiting opponents to 97.2 points per 100 possessions.
In addition to Paul being a likely trade candidate, Quinn mentioned former Sixer Jrue Holiday and Philly native Kyle Lowry as attractive deadline pieces.
There are three guards that are conceivably available who could help the offense without hurting the defense. Jrue Holiday’s inconsistent shooting makes him the worst fit of the three, and his age would lead to an asking price they likely wouldn’t meet. Kyle Lowry would be cheaper in theory, but Toronto would have no interest in taking on any of Philadelphia’s long-term money with its 2021 pursuit of Antetokounmpo looming. That makes Paul far and away the 76ers’ best, and likely most attainable, option.
The problem with negotiating this kind of in-season blockbuster trade would come down to financials. Paul doesn’t seem willing to forego any of the $44.2 million option he is due for the 2021-22 season.
Paul Not Willing to Waive Salary to Play for Contender
It’s fun to debate the merits of a Chris Paul trade to Philadelphia but the reality of it is about as unlikely as sealing the crack in the Liberty Bell. Seriously.
Per Sports Illustrated‘s Rohan Nadkarni, the Thunder point guard is unwilling to waive the $44.2 million player option he is due for the 2021-22 season. Remember, Oklahoma City absorbed the $159 million deal Paul inked with the Houston Rockets in 2018.
He is earning $38.5 million this season and due another $41.3 million next year, per Spotrac. Paul will be 36 at the end of that curiously large contract. It’s an albatross that no team wants to inherit.
Meanwhile, Paul isn’t offering any team-friendly discounts. He wants to get paid and doesn’t seem anxious about sacrificing guaranteed money to possibly win an NBA championship in another city.
“No chance. That’s not happening. Nope,” Paul told Nadkarni when asked about waiving his $44.2 million option.
Paul is also head of the NBA Players’ Union and fought hard to change the over-36 rule, per Larry Brown Sports. The rule states teams could not sign players to four or five-year deals if the player would turn 36-or-older during the course of the contract. This clearly applies to Paul.
There is one other NBA team drawing rumored interest in Paul. The Miami Heat would like to pair him with Jimmy Butler in their backcourt for the stretch run. It’ll be interesting to see if either the Sixers or Heat — maybe even the Lakers? — could get something done for the overpaid future Hall of Famer.